Left Coast Rebel is lighting up the red Empire State Building...red

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Via The Left Coast Rebel

Empire State Building Red Tonight - To Honor Chinese Communist Revolution

by the Left Coast Rebel

I guess you could put this story in the 'too many socialist infringements to keep track o' list'.........

The Empire State Building, icon of American capitalism, ingenuity, freedom and free-enterprise; the tallest building in Manhattan since the World-Trade Towers were downed by terrorists.....

Constructed in 410 days.

5 men lost their lives to the cause.

Built during the Great Depression no-less.

An achievement of American competiveness.....

Will be lit tonight, all night; in honor of the 60th Anniversary of the People's Republic of China. Yes, you read that right, the 60th anniversary of The Peoples Republic of China.

The 60th Anniversary of a revolution that killed millions and heralded a regime that still persecutes it's own people today; an affront to any freedom-loving/human-rights concerned-citizen. Perhaps the Fox News story above got it wrong though. Perhaps the Empire State Building's new Red hue.......

Is a celebration of the election of our Obamanation.

Capitalism derangement syndrome, Michael Moore and kooky ideology

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Via The Humble Libertarian

The problem with posting once a week is that there is so much material to post about that it becomes distracting. For example, here were a few potential posts:

NYT and Newsweek had some recently sharp criticisms of Obama and his administration. I wanted to tie these into an old post I had regarding Obama’s potential lack of leadership ability.

I was inspired by my friend tL to go out on a limb and give my thoughts on foreign policy. I usually avoid foreign policy. Like law, it is something I am not extremely knowledgeable and it is also something that is very subjective. I generally try and stay out of the subjects and areas that I am not confident or familiar with.

Or, I could have written about the Left Coast Rebel's most recent big time kudos and brought back the Freddie Mercury Clapping Award.

I’m a firm believer in writing what you are most passionate about and that would be government, economics and business. However, I’m always lost and confused over the gibberish-arguments made about capitalism from those that uphold something else. Most of the arguments ranting on the subject require an absolute suspension of the history of the world. They tend to require absurd moral equivalents. Often, they are broken, tired, and regurgitated arguments from Karl Marx, which leads me to wonder, “Are the proponents of these Marxist arguments aware of their author?”

I was recently reading an article at Rise of Reason written by the author of The Humble Libertarian (I’m new to his blog, but so far not disappointed). The first comment to THL’s article caught my eye. It was well written, but also it represents the kookiness I so frequently see from the likeminded. Here it is in it’s entirety below (sorry for the length):

"Capitalism is an illusion. Perfect capitalism is a perfect illusion. Humans are the problem with capitalism. Greed, avarice, control, power, despotism and all the “deadly sins” are manifested and magnified through the illusion that human beings are little more than narcissists masquerading as actual feeling, sentient beings.

There is no accountability in capitalism perfect or imperfect. As long as power and wealth is concentrated and directed towards a few controlling interests; and in return directed against everyone else, accountability or social responsibility is negated and rendered impotent. Those with the gold rule.

The religious proponents of unfettered capitalism in the US are laughable because no major religion on the earth encourages capitalistic behavior that is Darwinian at its core – survival of the fittest. Humans have the capacity to move beyond such primitive, anachronistic, savage, and narcissistic behavior. Cooperation, compassion, brotherly and sisterly love, genuine concern for others beyond one’s profit margins are all the “better angels” of human behavior.

Corporations and governments for that matter, are little more than sepulchers of amoral (at best), generally immoral (yet shrouded in legality), deadened narcissists that are using a golem of dollars and cents to wreak havoc and keep people in fear with debt, loss of income, government control scenarios and the like. It is amazing that “We the People” are the government, that elects its representatives – illusion of representation – and we have been told to fear and loathe that to which we are inextricably connected. The ultimate self loathing scenario.

Yet we have been told through artful propaganda that corporations, capitalism and the so-called “free market” is preferable to “ The People” and their government; while the “The People” at large have no say or participatory representation within the boardrooms that rule society at large. This seems more fascist than democratic :

“Fascism, pronounced /ˈfæʃɪzəm/, comprises a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology[1][2][3][4] and a corporatist economic ideology developed in Italy.[5] Fascists believe that nations and/or races are in perpetual conflict whereby only the strong can survive by being healthy, vital, and by asserting themselves in conflict against the weak.[6 ]”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism

Money rules all and people are always left dead and dying in their wake.

“In a free market, businesses succeed and fail on the basis of their ideas, on their merit in creating value for society. This is determined by the free and voluntary activity of individuals who exchange with others- again, on the basis of what improves and adds value to their lives. In this model, businesses that don’t create value for others… fail.”

We are told, lies are spun to create value within the minds of those others that capitalists are creating. M ore illusion, smoke and mirrors. There is little merit in economic models that imposes its creation of value and values for society at large that by definition exclude, do harm and promote violent anti-human behavior for those that cannot comply or will not comply to its will. There is little free or voluntary individual activity expressed or encouraged in corporate economical models. Most ideas that are spawned in the capitalistic model are all contingent upon self preservation and profit with little regard for anyone or anything in its way. Look at the healthcare system where thousands of people died each day due to no healthcare. We have been told that healthcare is a privilege not a basic human right.

The idea or perfect capitalism is pretty much like going to heaven: no one knows for sure; it does not and cannot exist in this world; only benefits the believers, and sooner or later everyone that holds to this model will die believing it and will take thousands with them to the grave."

For those of you that still can’t figure out the definition of Capitalism; “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.” If it’s not about private ownership then it’s not capitalism. If a reasonable person were to read this definition and desire to debate Capitalism, they would do so on the merits of individual vs. state ownership. That is the scale that exists in this world. Economies are either moving toward centralization or decentralization. If I were talking to a rational person, I’d expect an argument regarding what is more efficient vs. what some central power determines is fair. The kooks, especially Karl Marx, attach a twisted form of morality to the context.

Somewhere in the incoherent ramblings, we are meant to think what? Why is there a constant echo from the kooks that Capitalism brings out only the worst in people and then the argument ends? The author tells me that I must accept the cynicism of the irrational to avoid being a blinded fool. The author makes this argument as if good exists somewhere in individuals, but not in their ownership of property.

What is your proof of your outlandish claims, Enron? Then what would you say of Hitler? He was the leader of a nation and because he chose evil instead of good, does this make all leaders of nation’s evil? What about Charlie Manson? Since Manson was a person and chose great evil instead of good, are we all murderers? What would you say about the history of the world, which clearly documents 6,000 years of abuse by the centralization of property and power? Wouldn’t history indicate that individual ownership of property is the opposite of what has happened throughout history?

What if it is true; the argument that individual ownership of property is inherently corrupt? As Milton Friedman put it, “Who are these angels” that you will appoint to keep individual ownership in line and how do they obtain this virtue that you assume is inherent in something else? I say something else, because the author doesn’t have a clue. The author opines the tyranny of Capitalism and government. In the wake of his arguments, we see humanism with no one to implement it. It can’t be individuals since they cannot be trusted. It can’t be government since they cannot be trusted. Perhaps, it must come from the collective, but if you advocate something other than anarchy, who is there to ensure the good nature of the community? If it is anarchy you advocate, who is there to ensure the good nature of the community?

The author of this comment speaks as if the definition of Capitalism had added the phrase “you must conquer all, no matter the means if you are to own private property.” If that were the case, it was left out of the handbook when I went to work for Corporate-America. If it were the case, someone failed to teach it to me in college. The farce does not come from the halls of corporate marketing, but the belief that Capitalism operates via Social-Darwinism. Yet, I challenge you to give me an example, save countries where government owns the means of production. Tell me how many private companies operate in the US? If your answer is more than a few, you will have a tough time making your case that individual ownership is only serving the needs of the few. How many more private companies are there in economies run by capitalism as opposed to those that are centrally planned? You would think that this fact alone would make the case for individual ownership over state ownership.

What is the truth? The truth is that very few approach business with the intention and plan to dominate. Instead, most proprietors, be it Wall Street or Main Street, believe in and take pride in what they produce. They believe that what they produce is actually valued, wanted, and needed by those that consume it. There is nothing more to it aside from the desire to continually improve so as to continually meet those needs and fulfill the desires of their patrons. The big lie, the author tells me, is that I actually think that I value, want and need the products they produce. Yet regardless, I do need to eat, I do need clothing and I prefer to engage in hobbies as opposed to sitting in the dark.

Profit is not a result of exploitation, but having a superior competence in some area, whether it is a superior product, a more recognized product, a cheaper product, a more desired product, or differentiated product. Those that are ok at their business will do ok. Those that are good at their business will do well. Those that are poor at their business will fail and hopefully move onto vocations better suited for their talents. As a result, they have a better chance of improving their situation and society’s at the same time.

All people have the capability of making points. The only one I can agree with is, “Perfect capitalism is a perfect illusion.” People and intentions are not perfect. So how do we come to terms with this? Do we turn away from a form of economics that has and still works? Or do we embrace more and more centralization of the economy, which has failed men throughout the history of man and continues to be the face of tyranny in this world? If you know something better, then why not say it instead of babbling on in your own duplicitous way?

Is it Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Totalitarianism? You tell me.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Read the blogs, the protest signs and there are proclamations for and against the forms of economics and governments in the title of this post. There are assertions and objections being made all the time. Do you really know what they mean? Here are the definitions according to Webster.

Totalitarianism - centralized control by an autocratic authority

Communism - a doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism that was the official ideology of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics b : a totalitarian system of GOVERNMENT in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production

Fascism - 1 a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic GOVERNMENT headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

Socialism - 1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

Capitalsim - an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

Now let’s put those definitions to the test. I’m going to give you some political scenarios and you tell me what direction government and the economy are moving.

1. A loan from the government to a private company is used by the government executive to take majority ownership of companies in the auto, banking, and insurance industries.

2. Push for and establish regulations and laws to allow the executive of a government to seize control of any private financial institution it deems to be in danger of collapse

3. The executive of a government establishes authority to determine the wages of employees of a private company

4. The executive of a government establishes authority to fire employees of a private company

5. The executive of a government requests authority from the legislature of a government, to bring the IGs who provide oversight of the government executive, under the executives direct control

6. The executive of a government proposed that the supply and production of energy be set to a specified limit set by the executive

7. The executive of a government seeks to end the private market for student loans

8. The executive of a government promotes legislation that would allow the executive to determine the supply and production of health care to lower costs

9. The executive of a government uses money authorized to bail out financial institutions to nationalize the car industry

10. The executive of a government uses and establishes positions of power that answer directly to the executive

If you answered capitalism, wanted to answer capitalism, or tried to find a moral equivalent for why capitalism is like or worse than the government executive, then you are likely to be supporter of totalitarianism.

If you just learned that you support totalitarianism, then you probably have a Philosopher-King mentality. I’ve often referred to the Philosopher-King mentality in my posts. It comes from Plato’s Republic. Plato philosophized that the best form of government would be a philosopher-king system, where a single individual, with unlimited power would be in control of all aspects of government (this was the king side). That individual would be very intelligent, always put the needs of the people first, and would make nothing but rational decisions (the philosopher part). Doesn’t sound so bad, right?

Perhaps you feel this way about our current President. You believe him to have a superior intellect. You trust him. You are certain he has the people’s best interest in mind. You have no problem with him taking the helm of important issues in your life and you feel that you are better off for it. That’s your right and you might even be correct to do so.

The problem with Plato is that he never thought about the Philosopher-King in the long term. The truth of history and rulers is that for every great, kind, and self-less authoritarian there are thousands of horrible, selfish, and petty authoritarians. Any one ruler may achieve the impossible and bring about peace and prosperity for their nation. I won’t say it’s not possible, but I will ask, for how long? Who will take the mantle after? Just look at hypocritical republicans. Those that had faith to hand the keys of power to Bush now fear what that power means in the hands of Obama. Those that had faith to hand the keys of power to Obama will fear what that power means in the hands of Dick Cheney or Sarah Palin.

There is something interesting in the definitions of Communism and Fascism (socialism too, since Marx argues that it's simply the second stage before communism). They both have the tenants of totalitarian rule in them. I wonder why?

The history of the world is crystal clear that all forms of government save those based on individual liberty and free markets, lead to some form of totalitarianism. You are your own guardian of your rights and property. They do not require a government to fulfill them, just a government that cannot interfere with them. A government that cannot interfere with individual rights is one that is checked by individuals who are working to ensure that government stays within its limitations. By the way, for those of you confused and there are many of you. Individual freedom does not equal anarchy - 1 a : absence of government b : a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority c : a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government. If you need proof, go get a history book on the US.

Where did C Gen go?

Friday, September 18, 2009

It’s been a long time since I’ve been at the helm of my blog. I apologize to all of you dying for some snarky political commentary and regret to tell you that my posting will be light over the next few weeks. However, I’m trying something new today and giving you all a little peak into what’s going on in C Gen’s world.

One of the largest developments in my life is my 9 month old daughter. She’s crawling, she playing, and she loves hanging out with her daddy. The feeling is mutual, so I’ve been busy indoctrinating her in the ways of conservatism instead of blogging. For any of you worried about the indoctrination, let me allay your fears. I am doing it right! I’m taking her toys away to help illustrate how the elite take from the underprivileged, I’m feeding her different food than what I myself eat to establish my superiority, and I’m telling her all sorts of fanciful stories meant to keep her going about her daily life so she never thinks to ask why her station in life is not improving. It is diabolical folks and I cackle ever night when she’s not listening.

I’m back in school too. I took 3 quarters off from school when my daughter was born. However, I’m back and finishing up the 4 classes left for my MBA in accounting. I’d rather not be in school. I already have 3 college degrees, is another really necessary? Eh…I’m so close I might as well finish. Plus, I’m taking competitive strategy this quarter and there is nothing more fulfilling than reading Sun Tzu and using the war general’s lessons to win in business. Greed can be so exciting...or maybe it's evil that is exciting :)

I’m also forever remodeling the house. I bought an old, old, old house about two years ago. It’s very charming, but needs a lot of work. The majority of the work has been on two full baths that I’m converting out of a bedroom on the second floor. I’m getting close. Just need to finish the electrical and I can seal up the floors and the walls. Next, I am going to demo and remodel two of the bedrooms upstairs. One’s work is never done. Last week I insulated the bathrooms, split off the duct work into two, installed a chandelier in the kitchen, sealed my driveway, and cut my subfloor to fit.

So basically, I’m swamped, but I’m going to work hard to get at least one post up a week. Also, though I may be missing from the comments section of your blogs, I have been keeping up and reading everyone’s posts. I hope to be back in normal C Gen participation by November.

A Memorial to those that lost their lives on 9/11

Friday, September 11, 2009

I saw you fall
Four and a half hours after you jumped
You, a speck in a sky turned black
Hundreds below, millions of hearts sink with you
The TV between you and me

I hope you found your wings before the end
I hope for your child, your mother, your lover
For good mornings and goodbyes and most of all for solace
To you and others who’s moment for a sick day passed hours before
You’re nameless to me and innocent and I will never forget

I heard you’d fell
A moment after the field lit up
You, somewhere in the twisted, burning metal
My young innocence went with you
Why? And why couldn’t the radio tell me?

I hope you knew that you were heroes
I hope your phone calls and your messages ring clear
For those who were meant to hear
To you and others who’s time for being late to the airport passed hours before
I still know your names and your heroics and I’ll never forget

They were crushed, they were burned, they were buried
For those that lost it all;
I heard it all, watched it all
With tears and resolve
To never forget

Van Jones, September 8th Obama Education Speech, and Who are the crazies out there?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

If you don’t understand why people have a problem with Van Jones, the hubbub about Obama’s speech today, or concerns over Obama and his administration at large, then I entreat you to a little walk down memory lane. I’m sure you think many in this country have gone crazy. Maybe they have? Or maybe, just as the right often over emphasizes the power of the left-wing dominated mainstream media, you have over asserted the power of right-wing dominated radio? In truth, most people right or left think for themselves and formulate their own beliefs from their own experiences. The difference is that in your support and trust for your philosopher-king, you’ve pardoned, overlooked, mentally blocked all the instances leading up to the criticisms of Van Jones, of Obama’s school speech, and even of Obama altogether. The following NPR article certainly has. I’m here to point out a few things that you’ve forgotten or missed.

A good friend and excellent blogger, Left Coast Rebel, has been out covering the Van Jones “scandal” and the Obama September speech. I suggest you check out all his crazy and outlandish opinions on the matter, there are some that have certainly commented on it. If you need validation, check out the NPR article I linked to, Daily Kos, or others. Believe me. You don’t need to search hard to find someone that thinks the country has gone crazy and overly sensitive to our President. There is just one problem. It’s not the 2007 primary races. It’s not the President’s first day in office. If you remember, nearly the entire country was behind Obama from the start. What happened? How did we get here? How did we go from, “We’re All Socialists Now” to pulling children out of school when the President gives a speech? I’ll give Keith Olbermann a hint and it’s not, racism! It’s simple really. Obama has lost the trust of the American people. Obama has lost his credibility.

Let’s start with Van Jones. You can believe that it’s crazy to have a problem with him. After all, he’s not in an important position. Or you can look at the entire context of Obama appointees and you are faced with a President who has done a horrible job vetting his appointees. To date he has appointed 8 tax cheats, two under criminal investigation (Richardson and Car Czar Ratner), and now concerns over Van Jones.

Obama inherited many things from Bush, one such heirloom was a gross expansion of executive power. Obama has worked hard to implement the machinery that continues the use and expand on this inherited power as well as manufacture new power. The executive branch was not running banks, but now we are and with that, executive pay. The President was not running car companies, but now we are and with that, giving away interest in companies to union cronies. The executive branch was not running the IGs that would provide oversight for Van Jones, that power used to be shared with congress. Don't worry, because congress wants to ceed that power. I doubt Obama will object. With a passive democrat controlled congress, who’s to question Van Jones if not for the American people and tell me why that is such a crazy idea? Especially given Obama's track record on vetting.

Obama’s education speech is an even easier topic to cover. One can’t show a Disney movie in school without someone objecting. Why? People are sensitive to what is taught to their children. Atheists don’t want religion in school and the religious don’t want atheism in school. It’s a sensitive subject for all walks of thought.

Now tell me who had a problem with Obama giving a speech? Most media outlets pegged the problem correctly and asserted that people had a problem with the proscribed lesson, not the speech. They were concerned about what the lesson would be teaching. What were the teachers going to be teaching and reinforcing? What do you expect with an open-ended lesson plan and no details on what the speech was on? It came out, way after.

I want my child to hear Obama speak. Especially, if I’m present and can use the event as an opportunity to point out the problems with flowery, pro-centralized government mentality. However, who, that ascribes to the ideology that free-markets are the best way to run an economy, would not object to a lesson plan crafted by someone who said some of the following at Notre Dame’s graduation commencement? After all this is the last address Obama has made in an academic setting.

“This generation, your generation is the one that must find a path back to prosperity and decide how we respond to a global economy that left millions behind even before the most recent crisis hit -- an economy where greed and short-term thinking were too often rewarded at the expense of fairness, and diligence, and an honest day's work.”

I assert that this statement is not in the mainstream of American thinking and though it has merits in the realm of rational, thoughtful, adult discussion. It does not belong in the halls of elementary school, where children are impressionable. I suspect Obama would have the tact to leave ideology out of his speech, as I expect teachers to do the same. However, I can exercise my right of oversight over a teacher and demand to see the teacher’s lesson plans. I’m sure many parents do. I guess people are crazy for wanting to see the President's.

In the greater context of what is and has happened since the Obama administration has taken over the reigns of power, is the nation going crazy? Even Obama has declared how “dramatic and unprecedented” his handling of the economic crisis has been. A moderate takes dramatic and unprecedented action? “Remaking America” is a phrase from a moderate? It is funny this idea of a moderate Obama, the idea that only seems to get floated when radicalism is seen from the mainstream as something bad. Yet when Obama speaks, he always speaks as one trying to gain acceptance for bold, new ideas. Change, right? That’s not the viewpoint of a moderate. A moderate speaks to people matter-of-factly because the people already believe and ascribe to your ideas. Or maybe he’s a moderate, because you’ve moved so far left? I’ll leave you to figure it out. I’m going to join the rest of the crazies and continue to voice the need to diminish Obama’s expansion of executive power.

Isn’t it about time that Obama claim victory over the recession?

Friday, September 4, 2009

It’s a new month which means the Obama Administration will and has begun its formulaic declaration of victory over the economic recession…again. If I remember correctly, we’ve declared victory every month since May, that would make this our fifth major declaration of victory. The only problem is that the recession still hasn’t taken the hint that it’s time to go into retirement. With new figures on unemployment showing a massive 223,000 jobs lost in August and recent news that GDP is stuck still at the falling rate of 1% per annum, who knows how many more victory declarations Obama will need to make before it’s all over? He’s like a weatherman (the non-domestic terrorist kind of weatherman) who calls for rain everyday so that he can say how right he was once it inevitably rains. Maybe it’s more like a Native-American rain dance?

I can’t just blame Obama, there are many economists that are saying stupid things lately. I guess that statement might be a bit too unfair, because honestly I’m not sure if it’s the economists or the reporters that are making the economists look foolish. For example:

"Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Economy.com, said, "I don't think it's any accident that the economy has gone out of recession and into recovery at the same time stimulus is providing its maximum economic impact."

Huh? Don’t we need to see positive economic growth before we are in a “recovery?”

When he talks about making an impact, perhaps he means this?

“IHS Global Insight, an economic consulting firm, estimates that the stimulus has increased the 2009 gross domestic product by about 1 percent over what it otherwise would have been, with the benefit almost entirely in the second half of the year.”

A little background, we economists use GDP and only GDP as the yardstick for economic recovery or recession. No matter what is going on economically in the US, so long as GDP is increasing, we’ve recovered. GDP is defined in simple terms as Consumption (people’s spending) + Investment (company’s spending) + Government (government spending) +/- our net imports/exports (balance of trade between other nations). As with all measurements, it takes a little interpretation. If you think you are sick and the thermometer reads 56 degrees, the obvious question to ask is “are you a corpse or is your thermometer broken?”

Let’s take a look at our recession thermometer. According to last month’s GDP report:

“The decrease in real GDP in the second quarter primarily reflected negative contributions from private inventory investment, nonresidential fixed investment, personal consumption expenditures PCE), residential fixed investment, and exports that were partly offset by positive contributions from federal government spending and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction
in the calculation of GDP, decreased.”

In simple speak, GDP decreased a little less than the previous month, but not because of consumption or business investment were doing great, but because the government spent a ton of your money. The government spent so much of your money it made up for the fact you and your employer aren’t doing so well. If the government continues to Spend-Big (we are at a $2 trillion deficit just this year), we might finally have some positive GDP figures. This is what everybody in the economics world is getting excited about. This is how the stimulus is being heralded as a success. Since government spending is getting bigger and bigger, soon the GDP number will finally go up. The reality of the situation will be that a single number ticked up, we aren’t going to be better off because of it. It’s like getting fired from your job, but you’ve managed to get so many credit cards and loans you might be able to completely replace your income. It’s a hollow achievement if government spending does nothing for people and businesses to increase their side of the GDP equation. The USSR used to post massive GDP gains while they were a communist nation and all they had was government spending driving their GDP, the people in the country lived in squalor.

Congressman Davis had a recent Op-Ed and he gave the stimulus outlays to date:

“Despite promises that this money would be spent quickly to stimulate the economy, an estimated $80 billion of the $787 billion has been spent to date. Those funds breakout roughly as follows: $26 billion on Medicaid grants to States; $13 billion to States for education; $16 billion for unemployment insurance; $13 billion for one-time Social Security payments; $3 billion for food stamps; and $1.7 billion for transportation infrastructure.”

The ugly truth is that to date the stimulus has been more of a bail-out for government than an economic shot to the arm for consumers and businesses. It certainly hasn’t lived up to the sales pitch the Obama Administration made for the bill back in February.

So when team Obama goes out to claim victory over the recession in September and the Obamabots go out to echo the claim that the stimulus is working great, please suggest to them that we might as well repeal the remaining 90% of the unspent funds. After all, the recession is over and the stimulus has worked already. Do they need the money anyways? I’m fairly certain team Obama can package and use the properly poll-tested words on the teleprompter this month to convince the recession to leave the US, never to return.

Related Links:

Robert Verdi had a great fact check on Biden today. If you don't follow his blog The 46 you should. He finds all the interesting articles that are easily missed by the media.

Robert have another excellent find today!

While the Left was making fun of Michelle Bachman and the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I am particularly excited about today’s post. For those of you wondering how to get people to read your posts, one of the best methods is to write a post defending a right wing political figure for which the left hates with irrational vitriol. I suggest Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, Dick Cheney, or Karl Rove. Today, I’m posting on Michelle Bachman and I can’t wait to check my analytics tonight. My last post on Bachman regarding one-world currency is my most read post to date. Today, we are going to talk about Bachman and CFLs.

Like one-world currency, I came across the hate-speech from the left regarding Bachman’s proposed “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act” by accident. I have been considering CFL bulbs for a while. I’m a capitalist (or maybe I’m a cheap-skate?) and I can’t pass up easy savings. However, I had heard that CFLs contain mercury and being the pathological klutz that I am, I decided to see what my actual health risks would be if I were to break a CFL.

The EPA was able to allay many of my fears. I don’t need a HAZMAT team to come in and clean up if one breaks. Here are the instructions for cleaning up a CFL according to the State of MN.

Treehugger.com was able to give me some added benefits too! Even with mercury in CFLs, the overall mercury in the atmosphere will actually decrease due to the reduction in the use of coal energy. Mercury is in coal, so when it is burned, mercury is released into the atmosphere. Have I sold you yet? Sounds great and reasonable, right? I must admit, it does sound good. That’s usually what happens when the smart people are running things. You know…the people that use math and models to determine what’s best for the masses?

I wish I could say, “That’s all folks.” However, I’m a math and model guy too. I know the problems with using math to make my decisions. I wasn’t fully convinced and wanted a little more information. Luckily, I’m not just a math guy; I’m a common sense guy too. That’s why I only have an undergrad in economics!

Now before I go further, I’m not saying that people should boycott or avoid buying CFLs. On the contrary, I believe that many people should. However, in the interest of pushing CFLs to save the planet, many agencies, bloggers, and magazines have downplayed the amount of mercury in CFL light bulbs. That’s a big mistake and a dangerous one too. The simple fact is even a little mercury is very dangerous (That's what National Geographic told me even as they said it's not dangerous). Mercury is a neurotoxin that is very harmful for people of all ages, but especially pregnant women and little children. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use them, but it does mean that careful consideration is needed before using them.

Look at the cleaning instructions. What if you didn’t know there was mercury in the CFL bulb? Would you have followed those instructions? What if someone didn’t take the time to research how to cleanup a broken CFL? I believe the risks are low in the house, CFLs should be used, but CFLs are still dangerous for someone that is ignorant to the risks.

The largest concern for CFLs is not in homes, but in the environment. As I pointed out above, the math people have decided that mercury will decrease in the environment, by forcing people to manufacture and buy products that will introduce mercury into the environment. See what happens when you put a little too much stock in the math people? You wind up saying something that sounds silly.

I found the following stat in Popular Mechanics:

“In 2006, coal-fired power plants produced 1,971 billion kilowatt hours (kwh) of electricity, emitting 50.7 tons of mercury into the air—the equivalent amount of mercury contained in more than 9 billion CFLs”

What’s the problem? Well, first of all CFLs will not end the use of coal power plants. Though CFLs are about 75-80% more efficient than incandescent light bulbs, light bulbs are a very small portion of your overall energy use. According to Energy Star, light bulbs are about 20% of your energy bill. With an estimated 77% increase in efficiency, you would save about 15% on your power usage. However, the 50.7 tons of mercury in the atmosphere/year for the whole world is much smaller at 15% of the number. Look at the equivalent mercury in CFLs according to the stat, 9 billion. It turns out the US alone uses about 2 billion bulbs a year. Let’s do the math like the math people :)

If the world switches to CFLs

- Energy production in power plants would reduce by about 15%/year
- That the equivalent mercury savings in the atmosphere is equal to 1.35 billion CFL bulbs
- The US bought 2 billion bulbs alone last year

“Come on C Gen, but the bulbs don’t emit mercury like power plants and not all the bulbs are going to break.” To that I say, “Great argument guy on the left that I bring out to debunk in my posts!” However, my argument above was mostly intended to put into perspective the total amount of mercury people will be handling. There is also a big difference between the mercury from coal plants and the mercury in CFLS. CFLs concentrate the amount of mercury while coal power plants automatically disburse and defuse the mercury. If you read the CFL cleaning instructions, you are supposed to open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes? That’s so that the evaporated mercury has time to defuse to a safe level. Well, coal plants are naturally defusing mercury into the atmosphere. I’m not saying that’s wonderful. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do something about it. However, let’s evaluate the risks and the differences. You need to properly dispose of CFL bulbs to get a benefit from the reduction of mercury released by coal power plants. For me, the closest place is 35 miles away and in a city that I don’t like to go. Common sense asks, “How many people know or would take the time to dispose of the bulbs properly?” Since CFLs concentrate the mercury and waste disposal goes to specific areas, aka your landfill, then we could be causing serious issues for communities and the environments around landfills. It’s a real danger and something to consider carefully.

Now Bachman has proposed that people should have a choice to buy CFLs because of the mercury content of the bulbs. This makes a lot of sense to me. By forcing people to use CFL bulbs, you will guarantee that people will be ignorant of the dangers of using and disposing these bulbs. Only people who are going to dispose of the bulbs properly and are well aware of the risks of breaking a bulb should be buying them. If you think Bachman is an ignorant loon, then you should agree with her bill. Why? Do you want to force ignorant loons to handle hazardous material? Besides, wouldn’t an easier, better solution to closing coal power plants be building nuclear power plants? Or is it that you can fear radiation poisoning (zero cases last year), but you’re a crackpot if you have concerns over mercury poisoning?